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Xi meets Panetta, wants better military ties with US  BEIJING: China's leader-in-waiting Xi Jinping on Wednesday held his first talks with a foreign official since vanishing from the public eye nearly two weeks ago, telling US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta he wanted to advance ties with the United States.   Vice-President Xi's disappearance had prompted widespread rumours that he was ill or worse ahead of this year's five-yearly Communist Party Congress when he is expected to be named party chief.   Asked if he had learned why Xi had been out of view for some time, Panetta referred the question to the Chinese government but added: "Frankly, my impression was that he was very healthy and very engaged."   He said their scheduled 45-minute meeting had run over by more than half an hour, in part because the vice president "was very much engaged in the discussion" and wanted to raise a range of bilateral strategic issues facing the two countries.   "I believe that your visit ...

Hong Kong cracks down on parallel Chinese traders HONG KONG: Hong Kong has launched a crackdown on the thousands of mainland Chinese who travel across the border every day to buy products to resell at a profit in China, officials said.   The so-called parallel traders typically travel to Hong Kong by train and stock up on everything from iPads to milk powder, taking advantage of lower prices and wider choice in the city and dodging hefty tariffs on their return.   Tensions between Hong Kongers and ...
Chinese VP Xi healthy and engaged: Panetta BEIJING: China's Vice President Xi Jinping, who disappeared from public view for two weeks earlier this month, appeared healthy Wednesday, visiting US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta said after meeting him.   "Frankly my impression was that he was very healthy and very engaged," Panetta told reporters after the talks. "You'll have to ask them what issues were involved here."   Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2012 ...
China clamps down on anti-Japan protests, tensions high  BEIJING: China moved quickly on Wednesday to snuff out more anti-Japan protests after days of angry demonstrations over a territorial dispute forced Japanese businesses to shut their doors and threatened an economic backlash.   Relations between Asia's two biggest economies have faltered badly, hitting their lowest point in decades on Tuesday when China marked the highly charged anniversary of Japan's 1931 occupation of its giant neighbour.   Tensions had run high on land and at sea, with four days ...
NATO halts work with Afghan allies to stem insider attacks  KABUL: NATO ordered a cutback on Tuesday in operations with Afghan forces in response to a surge of so-called insider attacks on foreign servicemen, but said the restriction was temporary and would not derail a 2014 handover of security to Afghans. The order indefinitely suspending most mentoring operations came from the second most senior US commander in Afghanistan, Lieutenant-General James Terry, and applies to all front-line missions involving units smaller than an 800-strong battalion. But a senior ...
NATO scales back joint ops with Afghans  KABUL: NATO is scaling back joint operations with Afghans after an unprecedented number of Western soldiers were shot dead by their local colleagues and as anger erupts over an anti-Islam film, officers said Tuesday.   The move marks a setback to the US-led strategy for containing an 11-year Taliban insurgency, as a phased withdrawal of Western troops hinges on training and advising Afghan forces to take their place within two years.   But NATO insisted partnering would continue at ...
11 Chinese ships near disputed isles: Japan  TOKYO: Three state-owned Chinese ships entered territorial waters around Japanese-administered islands Tuesday, Japan's coastguard said, as tensions between the two Asian powers escalated.   A total of 11 Chinese vessels, 10 of them marine surveillance ships, sailed into an area known under international maritime law as the contiguous zone, in a move that came as fresh anti-Japan protests rocked Chinese cities.   Three of the surveillance ships entered territorial waters around one of the islands between 5:20 pm (0820 ...

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